Technology is “the boon and bane of medicine”. It has been a great blessing for health care system of the United States by providing new treatments and cured for the chronic illnesses, and sophisticated diagnostic procedures to reduce complication and incapacity. Ever since the postindustrial era, the development of new technology has continued to change many facets of health care delivery (Shi & Singh, 2012). Telehealth is a type of technological evolution, which use telecommunication to promote health. In this paper, Application of telehealth technology in 1st home health care, Inc. located in Chicago, IL is discussed to show the impact of telehealth on the quality of care, quality of life, cost of care, and access. The social, ethical, and economic impact of telehealth on the 1st home health care, Inc. is also discussed.
Increasing number of elderly patients and patients with chronic conditions have led to increase in health care institutions like home health care, to improve the standard of quality care and control the health care costs. 1st home health care, Inc. provide services including therapy services, skilled nursing, and personal care to elderly people who are homebound (1st Home Health Care, Inc.: Quality care provider, 2012). Home health care is a trend in health care delivery nowadays. More and more patients involve in the home health care trend, due to the remote monitoring and telemedicine, which allows patients to receive the care that they need in the comfort of their home. Majority of these patients are insured through the affordable care act (DeVore, 2014). Telehealth in 1st Home Health Care, Inc., Chicago, IL 60659
Telehealth is the major trend going on right now in health care services, and it is affecting health care delivery system in every level, public or private and small or big organizations. The main purpose of telehealth is promoting health by using the concept of telecommunication. Telehealth also incorporates the concept of telemedicine. There is a slight difference between both. Telemedicine is a distance medicine, in which telecommunication is used to diagnose and treat the patient especially when the patient and provider are separated by distance (Shi & Singh, 2012). Telehealth is a wide-ranging concept, which includes telemedicine as educational, administrative, and research use, and also in clinical application that involves caregivers, such as physicians, nurses, pharmacists, etc. (Field and Grigsby, 2002). There are two sub-categories of telemedicine; synchronous telemedicine and asynchronous telemedicine.
In synchronous telemedicine, it allows real-time telecommunication, such as video conferencing in between patient and provider. It allows health care providers to examine and interview the patients. In asynchronous telemedicine, it stores and forward technology that allows flexibility because the user can review the information later (Maheu, Whitten, & Allen, 2001). For example; teleradiology (Transmission of radiological images), telepathology (Observation of tissue specimen via video microscopy), and telesurgery (using and controlling robots to perform surgery from a distance (Shi & Singh, 2012). Innovative applications are under process in the telemonitoring patients receiving home health care. Vital signs can be monitored using video technology in a cost effective manner (Johnston, Weeler, Deuser, & Sousa, 2000).
The Veteran Health Administration has confirmed the importance of telehealth in mental health services and delivering psychotherapy for some of the psychiatric conditions (Gros, Aciemo, Ruggiero, Frueh, Grubaugh, & Egede, 2010). In rural area, they face many challenges in order to get the quality health care in a cost-effective way. Some of the barriers play huge role in the ineffective health care services in rural areas, such as shortage of providers, long distances, isolation at social and physical level, etc., which can be overcome by using telehealth services (Shi & Singh, 2012). Telehealth improves the quality of care at low costs by providing access to rural areas. World has changed to a very busy, technology dependent, and information gathering society. Everyone wants everything immediately. This instantaneous expectation is motivating the growing uses of telehealth technology in health care system. Telehealth have increased popularity over time and improve quality of care by facilitating patients to take readings and measurements (vital sings) in the comfort of their own home, where they feel the most comfortable (Lee, Helal, Anton, Deugd, & Smith, 2012; Williams & Wilkins, 2011).
Telehealth, or the delivery of health-related services using telecommunications by a healthcare provider to patients that are some distance from the provider, is a cost-effective method that could provide health services in a home settings (Lee, Helal, Anton, Deugd, & Smith, 2012; Blinkhorn, 2012). It keeps the comforts of home as the quality care is provided where the patient wants to stay. It is one on one care, in which the patients are provided with 100% attention and quality care. It is very much affordable as compared to other health care services’ cost. Patients are treated and getting cure at their house; in a very comfortable environment where they love spending time. This home environment helps them recover soon, and it is easy and fast for them to feel comfortable and independent. Telehealth reduces patient’s hospital visit or admission costs and ultimately save a large amount of health care costs.
Telecommunications changes the delivery of health care by providing easier access between patients and doctors. The telehealth in home health care services not only provide the best quality care within a home environment, but also gives peace of mind to patient’s family in their busy lifestyle. Telehealth in home health care, not only gives more years to add in patient’s life, but it provides “Life to years” (Lee, Helal, Anton, Deugd, & Smith, 2012). As the world evolves, there will be ways to put up with the world we live in.
Everything seems to be transforming into technological communicating rather than in person or face-to-face communication. In short, telehealth has brought many positive changes in the health care delivery system in terms of quality of care, quality of life, health care costs, and access. Application of telehealth in 1st home health care, Inc. can improve the quality care, save hospitalization costs, better regulator of vital signs of patients, and it improves productivities of patients, health care providers, and health care costs (Blinkhorn, 2012).
New technology like telehealth always raises social, ethical, and economical apprehensions. Health care budget with maintaining the standard of quality care is the main concern in the Unites States. From an economic point of view, telehealth technology requires human and nonhuman contribution for the production, operation, training, and management of health care services. Telehealth technology raise question like, is telehealth worth spending the amount it needs? Majority of the home health care receivers are covered under Medicare and Medicaid program in the 1st Home Health Care, Inc.
The concern is regarding putting pressure on government for the fund from such programs, after application of telehealth in 1st Home Health Care, Inc. (Shi & Singh, 2012). From the socio-economic point of view, telehealth benefits patients, health care providers, and health care system. Telehealth in home health care benefits patients in terms of increased access to health care, better quality of care, better quality of life, and cost-effectiveness (Jennett, Affleck Hall, Hailey, Ohinmaa, Anderson, Thomas, Young, Lorenzetti, & Scott, 2003). The social, ethical, and economic viewpoints of society affect the application of telehealth in home health care.
Patients with chronic diseases would rather be in their home than in hospitals and nursing homes, and this is true for especially elderly patients who want to be in their homes. Recent advances in information and communication technology have made telehealth in home health care both realistic and reasonable. Many factors affect the use of telehealth technology in health care system, such as; beliefs and values, financing, socio-economic views, etc. Telehealth technology provides quality of care to elderly patients and patients with chronic conditions, in their home settings in an affordable way. Telehealth has had an incredible impact on the health care delivery system. It has positively influenced the quality of care, improved the quality of life, and advance access in a cost-effective manner (Burgiss & Dimmick, 2003). Application of telehealth in 1st Home Health Care, Inc. can be beneficial to the patients and providers.
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